Childhood friendships may have benefits on health in adulthood

A study published in Psychological Science shows that boys that spent more time with their friends in childhood got to present lower levels of blood pressure and a lower BMI.
Jenny Cundiff, psychology researcher at University of Texas, says that these findings suggest that our social life from childhood has small but meaningful influences on our health at an adult age. It’s not all about our caregivers or our financial situation, but also about our friends who can be an important protection factor in our lives.
Even though it has not been an experiment, but a well-controlled longitudinal study, it shows us that being socially inbuilt since childhood is very important for our health, no matter other factors, like personality, weight, family status etc.
For realizing this study, researchers Cundiff and Matthews examined data from 267 boys from young cohorts from Pittsburgh public schools. 56% from them were black and 44% white.
The participants’ parents were asked how much time their children spent with their friends in a week, from 6 to 16 years. The study also contains data about some individual traits as extraversion, hostility, physical health from childhood and from adulthood and family and environment factors.
Results showed that boys that spent more time with their friends in childhood and teenage years, as they parents reported, presented a better blood pressure, but also a healthier BMI, at the age of 32. These associations resisted even after Cundiff and Matthews included other potential influences like physical health in childhood and social integration in adulthood.
Also, black and white participants presented similar patterns over study’s subject.
This study contains only a measure of social integration and does not include other measures that are specific to the psychological process of cardiovascular functioning of the human body.
So, keeping a harmonious and healthy social life is not specific only for the adults, but also for the children. A child that is playing and is socializing as much as he needs will have better chances for growing up a healthy adult, psychologically and physically.

Author: Violeta Gudană


Smiley face
Project co-financed by the European Social Fund Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007-2013
Invest in people!